A former dressmaker and photographer is raising awareness of the importance of breast screening for women as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (1-31 October), following her own diagnosis of breast cancer in 2016.
When Pamela Morris, of Heysham, attended routine screening at the North Lancashire and South Cumbria Breast Screening Service at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI), she had no signs of breast cancer, but only a few weeks later she received the diagnosis. Mrs Morris has had breast surgery, followed by Radiotherapy and has annual mammograms as part of her follow up care.
Breast Cancer Care’s ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’ aims to highlight the importance of breast screening, checking your breasts regularly, the symptoms to look out for including lumps in the breast, pain in the breast or armpit and discharge from the nipple and the support available.
Mrs Morris said: “I would say to those who are a bit reluctant or scared to attend – go to your appointment without question. Had I not gone to my appointment I would have not known I had breast cancer and if I had left it, it could have been too late. With cancer you have to catch it early and get it treated. The service at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary was very good and the staff were very supportive.”
The North Lancashire and South Cumbria breast screening service which is hosted by University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) invites around 125,000 women every three years for screening and is part of the National Breast Screening Programme. It provides free breast screening for eligible well women registered with a GP in this area.
The programme provides breast screening at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, Westmorland General Hospital, Furness General Hospital, and a mobile service which visits Blackpool, Lytham St Annes, Preston, Fleetwood and Poulton Le Fylde.
Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse and Deputy Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: “Pamela’s story is really touching and really emphasises the importance of women attending their breast screening appointments. I was also diagnosed with breast cancer last year following a routine screen and like Pamela, I would urge women to attend their appointments. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the UK. 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer within their lifetime.”
David Wrigley, a GP in Carnforth, said: “As a GP in Morecambe Bay I know about the importance of breast screening and encourage all my patients to take up the NHS offer to them. Catching breast lumps early can make a lot of difference and the NHS will be there to support you if you need further care.”
All eligible women aged 50 – 70 are invited for breast screening every three years. Some older (71-73) and younger (47-49) women are also being invited as part of a National Age Extension Trial. Screening is organised according to your GP practice. Once every three years your GP practice will be contacted and all eligible women will be routinely invited.
In 2016/2017 more than 50,000 women were invited to use the service, more than 36,000 attended with 14,000 declining their appointment.
We will be tweeting important messages out about breast screening throughout Breast Cancer Awareness month which you can follow @UHMBT. If you would like to share your story with us about your experience of the services at UHMBT please contact [email protected]